STEPDADDING BY STACEY JAMES WHEELER
Stacey James Wheeler is a Family Dynamics Researcher, speaker and author. His work has been called “Insightful,” “Powerful” and “Valuable” by counsellors and family coaches. The focus of his research is the struggles of blended and step-families. The goal of his work is to help Stepdads succeed.
Wheeler is the founder of Stepdadding.com -the Information and Inspiration site for Stepdads- and is an active voice for family and child organizations and charities.
Wheeler has authored numerous research papers & articles. His books include:
• The Stepdad’s Guide: Resolving Family Conflict (author)
• Dad’s Behaving DADLY (contributing author)
His upcoming book Stepdad 101 –What to Know BEFORE you Marry a Single Mom, will be released in 2015. Wheeler is a proud Stepdad of three.
1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
I was raised by a single mom and understand the value a full-time dad adds to a child’s life. I created Stepdadding after discovering the issues I’ve dealt with as a Stepdad are common in most single mom remarriages. As a Stepdad I struggled to resolve the turmoil in my family. My wife and I were a good couple and, on the surface, nothing seemed broken. But there was an amazing amount of stress and tension. We fought over little things, and we were growing apart. Divorce seemed unavoidable.
I started researching blended family statistics and found that more than 3/2 of marriages to single moms end in divorce. I discovered that Stepdads are nearly twice as likely to ask for a divorce. I also found that there are underlying stress factors that slowly erode these relationships, making them more likely to end in divorce. I was amazed I’d never heard this before. Understanding the underlying issues helped me save my marriage.
I knew this information could help other guys too. But most of the information I’d found was in hard statistics and was spread around the web. You couldn’t find it all in one single location. I created Stepdadding.com to give men a single site to get help. I was able to share what I’d found and help more men avoid divorce.
2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
The ideal reader for Stepdadding is any parent in a step-family. I created the site for men. I had in mind that I could help Stepdads and biological fathers work better as a team. It’s been good at attracting male readers but the analytics show that more than 40% of my readers are women. I also receive about 15% of my reader questions from women. Preventing divorce is a core goal of the site. So it’s not surprising moms are attracted to Stepdadding too.
I want to help kids. Divorce is hardest on them. The site helps couples resolve their stress triggers and stay together. Kids benefit a great deal when you can avoid divorce. Most step-kids already suffered through one split up. Saving these relationships keeps them from having to go through that again.
3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent in the same vein you have blogging about it?
The newest statistics show the Stepdad trend is growing. A larger number of single mothers remarry each year –and the trend is worldwide. Last month readers from over 150 countries visited the site.
A Canadian study shows more than half of households reported they had a Step-parent in the family. The US is the same. Blended and step families are the new normal in western culture countries. The information provided at Stepdadding.com is needed more than ever. The site traffic continues to grow at an amazing pace. The traffic increases by 150-200+% each year. People are sharing the articles in social media and work is getting around.
4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
I get content from a variety of sources I’ve developed, who are experts in the field. This requires a good deal of networking, but has been very valuable. I also use SocialMonsters. They are a free content service you can sign up for. For article ideas I subscribe to Google News feeds. This allows me to have news stories with specific key words sent to my email. I scan the emails each morning for relevant content.
Reader mail is another great source for topics. I have a link the readers can click to submit a question for my “Ask The Stepdad” page. These questions underline the most common issues couples deal with. The responses are posted, so new content on important topics is created. Other couples struggling with the same issue can apply the information to their situation.
There are about five major stress factors unique to Stepdad’s relationships and family life. Communication is the best way to overcome or avoid these issues, so communication is a huge theme on the site. And I don’t just say it’s important. I give relevant tips for how to improve the way couples talk.
5) What opportunities has your blog provided you?
The blog is a labour of love. There’s no cost to the reader. I started it so I can help other couples succeed. My work on the site has led to other opportunities. I was offered a monthly column in a parenting magazine. It was unpaid, but it gave me a new audience to share the site with. I wrote a research paper on the struggles of Stepdads, which was expanded and published as my first book, The Stepdad’s Guide.
I’ve been able to network with great people who’ve opened doors for other projects. I was asked to submit a chapter for the book Dads Behaving DADLY and asked to speak at several conferences through these connections.
This past summer the site was nominated as a top parenting site and was site chosen by voters among the top five in the world. It was the only site on the list dedicated exclusively to Stepdads. It was great publicity for the site.
6) How do you decide on what image should accompany each post? Is there a formula or pure creativity?
I used to put a lot of effort in finding what I felt was the perfect images, but I’ve backed down a bit from that. Searching for good images is time consuming. As the site becomes more successful I need the extra time to answer reader mail and do other formatting work.
I’ve become strategic. I want to site to look good and be easy to read. I like to have at least one image in each article but I’ve started inserting quotes from the article. I want the information to be easy to access and understand. I break up the article by section or point, by using formatting tricks. I use a larger font to introduce a shift in the focus as the article moves forward.
I also love to use video. It takes a little more effort but if the video content is important to the topic, it will be helpful to the reader. I’ve started creating more original video for the site and plan to put more emphasis on video in the future.
7) If you could provide one piece of advice for all men out there who are about to meet their potential step children for the very first time, what would it be?
Don’t expect to be “dad”. If the biological father is still in the picture this can cause the kids to feel pulled in two directions. It can cause a rift between the Stepdad and the father, making it hard to work as a team. This too is bad for the kids. When you’re a Stepdad you need to make a huge shift. The kids’ need become the center of your daily focus.
If the biological father isn’t in the picture the kids may choose to call you dad. You can let them know how you feel about them by referring to them as your kids in public. But don’t force it. They’ll decide on their own. Depending on their ages, they may never choose to call you dad.
Just be a parent. Raise them like you made them.
8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
If you want to be a blogger, write about a topic you’re passionate about. Consider how many people need what you can share. If it’s a big audience you might have something. People Google information they can relate to and use in their own lives. Bloggers that share recipes, how-to videos and gardening advice will appeal to a huge audience of people. We all eat. We need to fix things and there are millions of people who garden.
Bloggers who just write about themselves won’t do as well. People probably won’t do a Google search that will turn up what you’re writing about. If what you’re passionate about is yourself, then just stick to Facebook.
THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
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